The Subtle Art of Stalling

Have you ever struggled with writer’s block? I know I have. In fact, I have faced the ugly demon, writer’s block, on more than one occasion, as do many other people every year. Being surrounded by writers all of my life, I’ve always been fascinated about the phenomenon so many struggle with, but many don’t often talk about. It seems strange to me that something this threatening to the creative process can go this overlooked.

For this last essay, I would like to discuss the causes of writer’s block and the effects it has on the writing process. When I started my research, I almost instantaneously found a piece of writing that could aide me in my quest for knowledge on this topic. This article was found on a blog titled The Creative Penn for award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Joanna Penn. Her article, “The Ugly Truth About Writer’s Block (And It’s Cure)” gives lots of helpful information to make writer’s block easier to understand. An especially useful piece of information was Penn’s explanation on why writer’s block happens. She also uses a comparison to a bathroom sink as a metaphor to connect her audience in order to explain her ideas on it further.

Penn’s explanation of why writer’s block happens generated even more of my interest in this topic. My biggest light bulb moment came from reading in Penn’s article as she said, “…the truth is, if you have writer’s block, that means that you cannot follow your passion because some sort of psychological, emotional, or spiritual baggage is keeping you from the pursuit.” It got me to think about why exactly it is that this happens, and ways it can be prevented! I think this can be an extremely interesting topic, and I’m excited to learn more about it.

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The “Sorority Experience”, From the Perspective of a Pledge

“Sisterhood. It’s the kind of bond that will last a lifetime.” If you were to talk to not only the members from my particular sorority, but all members of “Greek” groups, regarding why they became a part of their community, family-esque bonding is a continuous theme. Thursday evening, I was given the opportunity to interview a fellow pledge sister, who will be referred to as “Reed”,  concerning her views on our shared discourse community, Tau Psi Beta sorority. While many of her answers were to be expected, I was surprised by some of her responses as well, given the information from this particular community.

For example, when asked for her reasoning behind joining Tau Psi Beta Sorority, Reed informs me of her personal desire to “be a part of something”. Tau Psi Beta was founded in 2013 with the specific intention of forming a deep connection with the community. The social aspect seems to be a common “pull-factor” for potential new members. Many see this as one of the best ways to become involved and active within the campus community. I expect this to be a reoccurring answer to that question in particular. It may be interesting to see if there are any discrepancies in the responses to that answer, so I will be keeping a close eye on it. It could be important for how I will be describing to the audience why exactly people join this community, so they may understand more about what this community means to its members.

Something I was fascinated to learn from Reed was her frustration about our pledge class’ “lack of communication”. I’m sure if you ask almost anyone about what their expectations are for a pledge experience, stress would certainly be one of the most prominent answers. For Reed’s pledge experience in particular, this issue with communication was the main contributing factor to that stress. I believe this issue specifically will be essential for my essay. If the goal is to discuss the discourse within members of a community, a flaw pertaining to said discourse would be crucial to analyze. The information gained may help to better understand the situation, and with that information, the community could possibly change which gives the chance to improve as a whole.

I have many more questions to ask members of Tau Psi Beta. I formed many of my questions with the type of person I could ask specifically in mind. I currently have interviews scheduled with the many leaders of this group, ranging from all levels of authority. I feel as though with the different levels of membership such as pledge, active, alumni, etc. It would be interesting to examine the different answers in relation to what level of power that member holds. It could help to have a deeper understanding of the class structure within this community, so I think they will be essential to ask in my piece of writing.

I am looking forward to interviewing the other sisters in Tau Psi Beta, and I hope it can help to display the diversity within my discourse community.

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Genre Analysis: “Group of Friends”

This fall, I decided to pledge for a sorority. With that decision comes many responsibilities that I must uphold in order to become an active member of said sorority in the near future. In order to take care of these responsibilities as well as be aware of upcoming events, I am a part of a group chat titled “Group of Friends” on an app. Below are my descriptions and processes of crafting my genre analysis, set to R. Stevens Amidon’s construct, lastly are my pictures displaying my genre analysis.

For Section 1, I discussed the social image of this genre of writing. Essentially, I was discussing the genre of the text, being a form of communication with the purpose of spreading information between advisors and the probationary members of my discourse community. It was easy to explain the kind of information or knowledge which I expect to gain from this genre, because the entire purpose of this document is to spread information from member to member. For Section 2, I state the writers within my document, this being the two advisor members and our eleven probationaries. A probationary member does not necessarily have any credentials, besides being a potential new member. To be considered an advisor, they must have gone through the same process we are currently going through. Writers can only be members of the group. In the audience section, I discuss the members of this group chat. They are the only people who can view this document. Regarding the audience, they also happen to be all of the writers I previously mentioned. All members of the document are required to also be writers on said document for the sake of communication. The advisors are seen as the leaders and as superior. The potential new members are seen as submissive followers. Both may relay information, but the tone and way of communication differ depending on the type of member.

As I stated previously, this is a strictly information based document. Its sole purpose is to share and distribute information between the advising members, and potential new members. The text may adapt depending on the needs of the audience. In Section 3, the formal features of the document are discussed. The general structure of the sharing of the information begins with a message from an advisor, followed by responses by the PNMs. The tone of this document has an overall feeling of forcefulness from the advisors, but it remains to have an overall personal feeling to it. The voice of the writing can differ depending on the current writer, or the current topic of discussion. The tone is not always formal, so full names are not necessary, and contractions are deemed acceptable. As this is an informal group chat, complete sentences are not expected within this genre. It is uncommon to see complete sentences within the text, let alone full paragraphs. Transition words are only utilized when moving between topics.  Due to this group chat taking place within a texting app over mobile phones, the format within the text (font size, headers, line spacing) cannot change. Graphics/ Illustrations are often used with a corresponding caption to explain said graphic to the audience.

At first, it seemed that studying this piece of evidence would be a complex procedure, but I’m happy to say that in this particular case, it may not be too difficult to grasp the genre at hand. It is a form of discourse with the intent of relaying information between its members in an informal but often times forceful way. Between the advisors and probationary members, there are many dynamics at hand so it’s interesting to see the interactions within the document. While it is informal, thete are particular forms of etiquette involved which make this document in particular, a very interesting one to observe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love, Laughter, and Dysfunction: My Discourse Communities

Who are you to others? How did you come to be that way? Personally, I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, and most recently, I am a pledge. These titles have been given to me by the wonderful few groups of people I am lucky to say are part of my life. Depending on the community, we communicate in many contrasting ways whether it be in the way we speak to one another, or interact across numerous platforms.

I was born into an eccentric family of four. Seven, if you count our precious fur babies. My mother is a self identifying witch with a passion for wine, the written word, and all things unicorn related. My father is a lover of music, whether it be “retro” or one of today’s hits, and is a self proclaimed “tech geek” who has been a stay at home parent for most of my life. To describe my brother as a fiercely introverted shut-in would simply be an understatement. He spends most of his days locked in his room, consuming one game after the next. Given our descriptions, many people may not put the four of us together, but that’s what makes us special. We’re all different in our own ways but similar through mutual love and respect for one another. Because of our differences, we do sometimes don’t see eye to eye which can cause problems, but we come out stronger after by rising above our differences. All in all, while I may not have chosen to be a member of this group, if given the choice, I’d pick them every time.

By growing up in Hawai’i, you develop friendships differently than most. It can make even the most unlikely groups of friends close, and help to form bonds not easily broken. That’s what happens when you live on the one of the most isolated pieces of land on the planet. This has shaped the friendgroup I have back home, so even though I’m almost 3,000 miles away, we are all still close. Messages through the use of technology became an important part of our means of staying together. To have any kind long distance relationship, whether it be romantic or purely platonic, communication is essential. This can actually be said about any relationship, long-distance or otherwise. At times, due to either scheduling issues or just a lack of free time, we can lack in communication which can cause problems, but I remain hopeful. I did meet all of my friends back home through our shared environment, but unlike my family, I have personally chosen to include each and every one of them to be in my life and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

My seeminly most “relevant” community that I am a part of at the moment would be the sorority I am currently pledging to. At the moment, I am in a group of twelve pledges total and there are over fifteen active members and thirty alumni. We constantly take part in activities with one another, so consistent messaging between members to be expected. We meet in person on many days of the week and also choose to communicate VIA instant messaging. I believe it’s because I’m so far from my usual support system that I felt the need to reach out to become a part of this community. I feel as though this may be an interesting group to report on because it’s my impression that many people have a misconception about women in sororities and I would love to show the reality of what it’s like being in a “sisterhood”. This may be my most practical group to observe and report on because as it is, it’s one of the only significant groups which I am both a part of, and can meet with in person to observe multiple types of communication, rather than just over text. I could observe them through meetings in person, across social media, and through instant messenger. It’s something I feel like I can be passionate about while writing, that’s for sure!

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A Picnic With Jane, Hold the Ants : Analyzing Pride and Prejudice

Sometimes my brain gets stuck, like a record skipping. sometimes it’s a word or a song or a quotation which it can’t quite unravel, so the stuck word or phase plays back again and again. For me it was a quotation from Jane Austen.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.   – Jane Austen

This line in particular, the very opening of the book I had chosen to analyze for my English class in my junior year of high school, seemed to glare at me for the many days I waited to begin my reading. The 432 pages of proper English were daunting, and I hadn’t even begun to write the required five page analysis of the text. I had chosen Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as a prime candidate to examine, because though I may not always care to admit, I’m a sucker for the occasional romance novel. In the beginning process of my assignment, I felt nothing besides enthusiasm for my chance to finally crack into a classic of the Western literary canon. My sense of enthusiasm quickly dissipated as I began to pour over the first chapter, my sixteen year old brain understood nearly nothing of what I had been reading. It took time, but I was able to finish the novel weeks later, with enough notes to fill the grave that I had metaphorically made for myself while attempting to complete this project.

When it came time to write my long awaited analysis, I felt as if there was nothing that would get in my way. I had the notes, a decent understanding of the text, and the entire boxed set of the TV adaptation starring Colin Firth. Nothing could have prepared me for the sudden wave of procrastination that came over me the second I first sat down to write.  I’ll admit I avoided completing this assignment for as long as humanly possible, bingeing the TV series Friends for countless hours, getting no closer to my goal. It wasn’t until about a week before its due date, where I finally decided to regroup and face the challenge at hand. Once I could organize my thoughts, words and ideas seemed to flow from my mind to my computer like a current down a wire. Approximately three days later, and about another season of Friends to help cope, I was finished. Thankfully, I  recieved a remarkably high score, despite my minimal remaining level of eagerness towards the subject. I was officially burnt out on Jane Austen for the time being.

This story of triumph over my lack of mental fortitude can be an integral example of my experience as a writer. Often times while I write, including now, I spend too much time in my head, contemplating every single word choice or sentence structure. I can make this experience as well as my many others, the main structure of my literacy narrative by discussing both my passions and frustrations regarding the subject. When I produce something well written, I feel such an immense sense of accomplishment. Though I can also frequently become stuck in my constant “writer’s block” purgatory, where I remain until I either push myself out using either sheer will or panic regarding an impending due date. Possibly while writing my narrative and exploring my experiences with writing, I’ll learn more about myself and maybe even help future Lauren not suffer the same fate as her past.

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Sponsors of Literacy : My Personal Take On It

In previous blog posts, I’ve written about my experience growing up with an exceedingly enthusiastic mother as well as an older brother with autism and how it affected my process of learning how to read and write. It can be strange to see how things so seemingly insignificant can play such an important role in shaping the kind of person you become. My mom being an english professor for almost as long as I’ve been alive and attending supplementary classes with my brother at the ripe age of about two and a half molded my personal relationship with literacy at an incredibly young age. I’ll be honest, in my most recent years I haven’t paid much thought as to why I am the kind of reader and writer that I am.  This has been changed entirely by enrolling in this English class. Looking back on my childhood, it’s been fascinating to view the small or large influences in my life and evaluate how they impacted my journey with literacy. The fact that I became interested in knowing more about my past allowed me to deeply connect with the topic of what a sponsor of literacy is. To my knowledge, a sponsor of literacy is an influence on a person’s understanding or involvement with literacy which can be positive or negative.

Like I’ve said before, I believe a crucial sponsor of literacy in my personal experience would have to be my family, and I’m sure many people could say the same. Like most others, my parents first taught me how to read and I inherited my attitude towards literacy directly from them. My mother has been a particularly influential person in my reading and writing experience. Starting from when I was young, I’ve wanted to be just like my mother, the reading enthusiast, and avid writer. What can I say? She’s my hero. As often as I was able to, I’d accompany her to writing workshops, bookstores, and even the occasional lecture while I was young enough to tag along. I didn’t know it at the time, but spending time with my mother at those types of events had already begun to shape my view on literacy. I just believed I was spending time with the person I treasured most in the world. I had no idea it could be so much more than that. I’ll be quite frank, at first, learning about what a literary sponsor was made me ask myself, “well, so what?” I wondered why knowing what such a thing was would come to be important. I can safely say after reading the stories written by both Malcolm X and Sandra Cisneros, as well as looking into not only my own personal history with literacy, but others as well, I can see why a sponsor of literacy is so significant. After all, rhetoric is one of the key concepts to producing a successful piece of writing. I feel that when people begin to understand the results literary sponsors can have on their lives as well as others, people can truly begin to understand each other as well as where they themselves come from. Knowing that, it’s much easier to appeal to your audience which can mean so much if you’d like to get your ideas across to others, and isn’t that what writing is all about?

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My Experience with Literacy

Ever since I was first learning as a young girl, I’ve always valued the skill and privilege of being able to read and write. Like most others, I was taught how to read and write mostly from my parents. I feel very fortunate to have parents who care about me enough to devote so much of their time into helping me as much as they have. My parents also raised me with the mentality that the opportunity for literacy is precious. Because of how they taught me, I have never failed to consider it as such. To think there is such an easy way in the world to share information that could expand our minds and even completely alter our way of thinking entirely within a short period of time never ceases to amaze me. I also deeply enjoy the way it can open the doors to teachers whom I would have never had the opportunity to learn from in this lifetime. There are countless stories from people with all kinds of different experiences from all across the world and in some cases, even from different periods of time. I firmly believe it’s the exposure to other ways of life and other experiences that help you to grow as a person. Reading and writing have often times been a way of escape and peace for me, like I’m sure it can be for many other people. This escape was especially helpful in my early childhood while I was surrounded by so much chaos in my life. Because my life tends to seemingly be in a state of chaos, I tend to gravitate towards books of a more lighthearted nature. Romance stories continue to be my favorite kind of story to read but I try my best to keep my mind open and remember to try new things.

Of course, like anything in this world it’s nearly impossible for my current experience with literacy to be completely free of flaws. While I have a deep love of reading and writing, lately I’ve found myself in a continuous case of “writer’s block”. If you don’t know what that is, congratulations, I am so incredibly jealous. See, earlier on in life I was much more confident in my writing ability. By going through my storage area containing my childhood belongings, I’m absolutely positive it wouldn’t be hard to find multiple notebooks full cover to cover in stories I once created in hopes of someday sharing with the world. I’m not sure what happened in the past few years to have changed this, but I’ve fallen into a bit of a writing slump. Even something as small as a blog post has taken me much longer than it should have because I can’t seem to shake my feelings of uncertainty. This situation I find myself in happens to be something I am hoping will begin to change over the course of this English 2010 class. Writing has gone from being one of my greatest passions to something I dread doing. I’m hoping that by taking this class, I’m going to be much more comfortable in my writing abilities and I can get back doing what I love.

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